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Financial Fixer-Upper Day 8: Plan Ahead

Posted by on Apr. 16, 2012 at 10:53 AM
  • 55 Replies

You're much more likely to spend less when you plan ahead!

Plan ahead to save on groceries:
Going to the grocery store soon? Stop! Before you go, make sure you take complete stock of what you already have in your kitchen so you can use that first. Do a thorough assessment of what you have to make sure that you really need everything you plan to buy at the store.

Once you've assessed your inventory, plan your meals for the week around what's already in your fridge or pantry, instead of adding to the shelves. Do you have half a bag of beans left? Try a make-your-own taco night. Have some tomatoes that are a little past their prime? Make tomato soup or gazpacho. Some more money-saving shopping ideas:

  • Always plan out your menus for the week before you head to the store. This will keep you focused on buying only what is essential for the week and stop you from making impulse purchases.
  • Read your store's circular in advance. Plan your menus for the week around what's on sale.
  • Don't go to the grocery store hungry! Studies have shown that when people shop on an empty stomach, they spend more.
  • Buy the store brand whenever you can.
  • Don't bring your kids! If you don't want your kids asking you to buy items that aren't on your list, don't bring them with you.

Plan ahead to save on gift giving
You can save money throughout the year by planning your birthday and holiday gifts for friends and family in advance.

  • Take some time today to make a list of the people you have to get presents for this year -- even if their birthdays or baby showers or weddings are months away.
  • Think about what they are interested in, and write down gift ideas and thoughts on how you might get those gifts cheaply. Knowing which gifts you have to give in advance, you'll be able to shop clearance racks, sales, and other cheap venues with them in mind. Or you can plan to make them something, and actually give yourself enough time to do it!
  • This blogger has a great guide to creating a gift-planning spreadsheet. You may want to use her template and fill in your own family and friends' details.

Plan ahead to save on vacations
Are you planning a summer vacation? Now's the time to plan so you can save as much as possible on your trip!
Try some of these savings tips for your next vacation, and share your own budget vacation tips.

  • Try renting a home or apartment instead of staying in a hotel. You'll get a cheaper rate per day, plus you'll have a kitchen so you don't have to eat out for every meal. Try to find available places in the locations you want to travel.
  • Go camping!
  • Planning a trip to Disney? Check out for the best deals.
  • Travel in groups. You'll save money on home rentals if you can pack more people into the house and divide up the cost.
  • Get local deals. Once you've decided on a destination, sign up for the local versions of discount sites like Groupon or Living Social, or look for coupons for attractions there in local magazines and newspapers.

How do you save money by planning ahead? Share your best tips in the replies below!

shopping If you missed yesterday's activity, you can find it here. You can sign up for the Tax-Time Financial Fixer-Upper Challenge here.

by on Apr. 16, 2012 at 10:53 AM
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by on Apr. 16, 2012 at 11:15 AM
Shop the sales and stock up
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by on Apr. 16, 2012 at 11:16 AM

I guess techinically i plan a head by picking up clothes and toys on clearance through out the year so that i have a gift stock pile for presents for family and friends through the year.

by on Apr. 16, 2012 at 11:20 AM
I grocery shop once a week and make no mid week trips to the grocery store. I have a hundred dollar budget per week. I watch a local blog for the weekly add match ups. I also have an excel spreadsheet that lists everything in my pantry so I am not buying something I already have. I need to learn more money saving tips though.
by Bronze Member on Apr. 16, 2012 at 11:20 AM
I shop sams club. I buy vegan/gf foods because I love cooking and buying in bulk is my best bet for that. I don't buy meats they are over priced.
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by on Apr. 16, 2012 at 11:21 AM
I found this site which plans out a menu for the week and keeps the budget low. I spend only about forty to fifty bucks a week which is a lot cheaper then if I just go to the store blindly. We don't go ob vacation and for christmas gifts, I'm going to try that spreadsheet.
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by on Apr. 16, 2012 at 11:21 AM

I always plan ahead for groceries or else I end up buying too much and we have food go bad...  Our vacations are camping so they don't cost much ($500/week at the most)

by Member on Apr. 16, 2012 at 11:25 AM

I always plan everything before I spend any money. I make all my lists and meals and whatnot. If it's not on the list, it doesn't get bought. The only exception ever has been when we go to the used book store. DD can usually get as many books as she wants (usually around 2-4) and they're all about a dollar each :) Even then though, I have a set dollar amount that we won't go over.

by Bronze Member on Apr. 16, 2012 at 11:31 AM
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Buy non perishables in bulk.  For example, will we use six pounds of maccroni noodles right now? No.  But we will use them and 6 pounds at Sam's costs about the same as 3 pounds at the grocery store. And we almost always have some in the pantry without having to think about it.

by on Apr. 16, 2012 at 11:32 AM

I always plan my menu and try to buy just what we need.  I try to use what we already have when I plan.  If you shop at Safeway, they have a great program for their loyalty cards called Just4U.  You can go to the site and load coupons and personalized prices to your card.  You can also look at the club specials and see the ads.  I usually save around $50 each week.

I love the gift spreadsheet!  I tried shopping for Christmas year-round once.  Only problem was remembering where I put stuff and who it was for.  If I do it again, I will use a spreadsheet to keep track of everything.

For vacations, check to see if your company (or your spouse's) has employee discounts.  My DH works for Home Depot and they have a great discount site.  Their prices were better than Mousesavers.  CityPasses are also a great way to save and you don't have to carry as many tickets.  They give you admission to many of the local attractions in a town.  Also, if you are a member of AAA, they have good discounts when you buy tickets through them.  You can also use your card to get discounts at hotels, restaurants, etc.

by Member on Apr. 16, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Meal planning.
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